The government must be able to safeguard business rights and confidence against unfair competition in the arena of trademarks and intellectual property related issues as it eyes increased trade.
As a member to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Vanuatu must create trade with regional and international partners. Increased trade will lead to challenges; one for example is the rise of counterfeit goods or products.
The rise of social media and online marketing makes the protection of trademarks, patent and designs difficult.
To ensure company or manufacturer’s economic rights are not ripped off, the Vanuatu Intellectual Property Office (VIPO) has sought protection from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Following a technical agreement, Vanuatu’s IPO Office will be establishing a WIPO designed Intellectual Property Automation System for registering trademarks, patents and designs.
The agreement was signed between Vanuatu’s Registrar of Trademarks, Patents and Designs, Britten Yosef, and the WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry, at the WTO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Yosef said an officer, Rai Lau, from the Intellectual Property Office is in Australia receiving training on how to install and use the system .
Mr Yosef said the intellectual property registering system will hinder the risk of passing-off or discrediting another person’s enterprise or activities to seduce customers for self interest.
To protect their ideas and investment, individuals or inventors are urged to use the registering system. Registering gives them the exclusive right over their product or trademark to the exclusion of others.
This means they can take legal action against the unauthorized use of their property, Yosef explained.
In Vanuatu, trademark registration is valid for a period of 10 years.
According to Yosef, it can be renewed from time to time and for patent protection, it’s over 20 years.
Vanuatu’s first intellectual property legislation was introduced in 2000.
The Vanuatu Intellectual Property Office (VIPO) was established after the parliament passed laws covering patents, trade marks, designs, copyright, geographical indications and circuit layouts.
VIPO is committed to administering these international laws in trade concerning trademark, patent, design, trade secret, circuit layout, copy right and related rights and geographical indication of source.
The Registrar of Trademarks, Patent and Designs, Yosef said they (office of the intellectual property) are now focusing on enhancing employees skills specific to tackling intellectual property matters.
The registrar of trademarks before was Vanuatu Financial Service Commission. This responsibility now rests with VIPO.